Spongebob Squarepants is one of those rare animated shows that can be enjoyed equally as much by both adults and children. The utterly ludicrous concept of a talking sponge (who works at a fast food joint called The Krusty Krab) and his adventures with his starfish friend Patrick and his crotchety neighbor Squidward are easily dismissed as simply another kids cartoon. However, if you take the time to pay attention to the dialogue and situations used throughout the series, you'll definitely understand why the show has garnered a sizeable cult following made up of people from all ages.
Paramount's latest compilation of episodes is entitled Spongebob Squarepants - Atlantis Squarepantis and is comprised of six regular episodes and the double-length feature attraction. Overall, this is a great selection - each episode here is a winner. The seven episodes on this release, which can be viewed individually or using the 'play all' feature, are as follows:
Atlantis Squarepantis: In this double-length special episode, Spongebob and his pals find the missing half of an ancient medallion that shows them the location of the fabled lost city of Atlantis. When they get there they find that the city is alive and well and inhabited by a strange race of Atlanteans. The city is also home to the oldest bubble in history, which Spongebob and Patrick are quite intrigued by. Of course, when they visit the bubble Patrick pops it and the Atlanteans are none too happy with their new guests.
Money Talks: Mr. Krabs sure does love his money and when his wish to talk to it comes true, he gets to learn whether his money feels the same way about him! Mr. Krabs' miserly ways start to annoy his funds who decide they want their freedom! The money wants Krabs to spend it, but we all know how he feels about parting with his beloved cash.
Spongebob Versus The Patty Gadget: Everyone in town knows of Spongebob's legendary grilling skills but they're going to be put to the test when Squidward shows up with a machine that supposedly out-grill anyone in the universe. Spongebob accepts the challenge but soon Spongebob finds that he may have finally met his match...
Slimy Dancing: Bikini-Bottom is holding their dance contest and many of the citizens are practicing and planning for the big event. Spongebob and Squidward partner up but Squidward doesn't make the cut so he decides to hide his torso inside Spongebob's body so that his own arms and legs can show off their moves during the contest's big finale.
The Krusty Sponge: When an unusually familiar TV food critic shows up at The Krusty Krab to rate their cuisine, the restaurant fares horribly except for one key factor - Spongebob! Mr. Krabs tries to capitalize on Spongebob's new found fame by renaming the restaurant The Krusty Sponge and cashing in by merchandising Spongebob in every way possible.
Sing A Song Of Patrick: Patrick decides to try his hand at songwriting and Spongebob likes what he hears so much that he decides to bring Patrick's music to the masses. Spongebob's initial plan is to get Patrick's new song on the radio so that everyone can hear it - but if it works, then what? Will Patrick really become a famous musician?
Picture Day: The Boat School where Spongebob is enrolled is having picture day and so he wants to ensure that he gets to school in pristine condition so that his picture will be perfect. Of course, every time he leaves the house something horrible happens to him and he winds up a mess. Will he make it to school in time for his picture and if so, what kind of shape will poor Spongebob be in when he does finally get there?
The Atlantis Squarepantis and Picture Day episodes on this disc are, so far at least, not available anywhere else but the other five episodes contained in this collection have been previously released in the Spongebob Squarepants: Season Five, Volume One collection. Overall this is a nice selection of material. While there isn't really a connecting theme, these are all above average episodes with a couple, like Picture Day for example, standing as some of the best that the series has to offer. The series remains as quirky, fun and creative as it was when it started and fans of the show, old or new, should enjoy this collection.
Seeing as this is a TV show, it makes sense that the image is presented in its original fullframe 1.33.1 format. Just like the rest of the releases in this series, this compilation looks quite nice. Colors are bright and crisp and there isn't any print damage to speak of. There is a bit of edge enhancement and some shimmering effects in a few of the episodes, but other than that, these cartoons look pretty good and none of the video issues take your attention away from the on-screen action. Detail also looks a little stronger here than it has on past Paramount single disc releases of the cartoon and the overall quality is more impressive here than it is on broadcast television.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix sounds pretty good. Once again, as with the earlier releases in the series, there's nothing to note in regards to hiss or audible defects. The directional effects are minor at best but the lefts and rights are distinguishable in the mix, and there aren't any problems following the dialogue and the background music is mixed and balanced to fit in with the dialogue and effects quite nicely. There are no subtitles included but alternate Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo dubbed mixes are included in French and Spanish there is an English language closed captioning feature present on here as well.
There are two featurettes on the DVD, the first of which is a five minute look at the South Korean animation studio where the series is produced. We get a look at how traditional cell animation is intertwined with computer animation to bring Spongebob to life and we get to see some of the animators at work. It's isn't particularly in-depth but it is reasonably interesting and worth a look.
The second featurette is Behind The Pantis which is essentially a ten-minute look behind the scenes of the animated special. It's all handled with tongue placed firmly in cheek (just see how many people take claim for coming up with the idea of sending Spongebob to Atlantis!) but don't expect things to get too in-depth. This is a fun piece, but it's also fairly superficial.
Aside from that, we get previews for a few other Nickelodeon DVD releases, animated menus and episode selection.
If you've got the Season Five DVD set and intend to collect future seasons, you might want to wait for the exclusive material in this set to show up there. That said, this is a fun selection of solid episodes and the feature attraction is excellent. Extras could have been more in-depth but as it stands, Paramount has done a nice job on this release and Spongebob Squarepants: Atlantis Squarepantis comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.